Words of wisdom have a way of entering our lives, just when the view becomes out of focus and we are drawn into the monotony of day-to-day life. This is my introduction to my feelings towards Palestine.
These feelings were awakened in me after reading an excellent book by Mourid Barghouti, the famous Palestinian poet. "I saw Ramallah". It is touching but most of all, very personal; an unattached account of what Palestinians go through today. Here is an excerpt from the book that touched my soul:
"So, when Yitzhak Rabin spoke so eloquently of the tragedy of Israelis as absolute victims, and the eyes of his listeners in the White House garden and in the whole worlds grew wet, I knew that I would not forget for a long time his words that day:
`We are the victims of war and violence. We have not known a year or a month when mothers have not mourned their sons.'
I feel a tremor that I know so well and which I feel when I know that I have not done my best, that I have failed: Rabin has taken everything, even the story of our death.
This leader knew how to demand that the world should respect Israeli blood, the blood of every Israeli individual without exception. He knew how to demand that the world should respect Israeli tears, and he was able to present Israel as the victim of a crime perpetrated by us. He changed facts, he altered the order of things, he presented us as the initiators of violence in the Middle East and said what he said with eloquence, with clarity and conviction. I remember every word Rabin said that day:
`We, the soldiers coming back from the war, smeared with blood, we saw our brothers and our friends killed in front of us, we attended their funerals unable to look into the eyes of their mothers. Today we remember each one of them with eternal love.'
It is easy to blur the truth with a simple linguistic trick: start your story with `secondly'. Yes, this is what Rabin did. He simply neglected to speak of what happened first. Start your story with "secondly", and the world will be turned upside down. Start your story with `secondly' and the arrows of the Red Indians are the original criminals and the guns of the white men are entirely the victim. It is enough to start with `secondly', for the anger of the black man against the white to be barbarous. Start with `secondly' and Ghandi becomes responsible for the tragedies of the British. You only need to start with `secondly', and the burned Vietnamese will have wounded the humanity of the napalm, and Victor Jara's songs will be the shameful thing and not Pinochet's bullets, which killed so many thousands in the Santiago stadium. It is enough to start the story with `secondly', for my grandmother, Umm `Ata, to become the criminal and Ariel Sharon the victim."